This blog is motivated by a reader and her nice comments about my parenting skills suggesting I write in detail about raising my boys. This is the first time I have followed a suggested topic and I hope my love, concern and honesty shines through. I do not ever want to appear to come off as “that” mother, we all just do the best we can, we love our children the most we can, raise them with the best intentions, and if by the grace of God they turn out half as wonderfully as my two young Men have, I believe it’s a great accomplishment. But of course, God gave me great babies to work with!
My one son once told me that he chose me to be his mother as an angel from heaven, that’s how he got here. Well, that brought me to tears and still does, I love that sentiment. Supposedly the spirit of the child jumps into the fetus when they realize we both have lessons to teach each other. He chose Me!
My other son told me that he loved me “more than all outer space”. That touched me too. When a friend of mine who’s psychic heard that, she said it he means he loves you wholly, truly, beyond time and space, psychically. We were meant to be together in time.
Out of the mouths of babes! I have been truly blessed! I love my sons very much.
Here follow a few anecdotes I can think of that helped shape my boys and turned them into Men.
I think from the moment my boys were conceived it was understood they would attend college and always strive to do the best they could in school so they could have the best life. We always believed education was needed to help better your life. I never realized that there was spoken and unspoken pressure on the boys to excel and succeed in everything they did, it just was they way my husband and I were. It was the way we naturally parented. I hope looking back I never pressured them too much.
I was always there as a sympathetic mother, to hug and listen, I am a very demonstrative person, but there was also a certain iron will behind my manner that assumed they would always do their best and not shirk their duties. I taught them, helped with homework, prodded and always gave positive reinforcement when they did well. They inherently did well since the moment they were born, Thank God, since they had such a highly expectant mother.
I never realized that I expected them to do so well, it’s just that they always did. When they didn’t, I would tell them it was OK, but I would not let them talk themselves down. If you don’t believe in yourself, who will? Now, I don’t mean unrealistically, like hmmm, you CAN play basketball, considering both my boys have all the genes in that pool against them as I’m a towering 5′ 1″ and their father is 5′ 6″. I understood why they didn’t even play basketball in our driveway when we had our own hoop, there are some odds you just can’t beat, and things that aren’t fun for everyone. But they played baseball, soccer, ran track, and my one son, even played high school football and we cheered them on, but not in a unrealistic way.
At the same time they were expected to keep their grades up and did. There were always decisions to be made. We usually spoke about things as a family. The kids would come to us with problems, we would try to let them work it out themselves unless we had to intercede. They learned young to be responsible by making decisions.
There was the time my oldest was being bullied at school and the principle called to tell me he was going to be thrown out of the lunch program for a week because there was a Zero Tolerance of Violence, even though he was the one being picked on, but finally had reacted to the bully. We told the Principle, after talking to our son, that we were behind our son all the way, because he had told us BEFORE the incident what was going on and we had told him to stand up for himself. There are times, rules be damned, that you have to stand up for yourself we told our son, you can’t be pushed around in life by a bully. So, he was expelled from the lunch program for defending himself off of school grounds, after school, but he stood up for himself! Good lesson, bad consequences! We were behind him. . .
Another time my other son thought he was not getting enough playing time by the baseball Coach, we agreed. His sons were on the team, and of course he showed favoritism to his own sons and his friend the co-coach’s. We were not the type to go to the coach and complain. It wouldn’t have helped, and I really couldn’t decide if I was being totally unbiased because it was my “baby” and it was hurting all our feelings. So we told our son, “suck it up” the world isn’t fair, get used to it. And things like “This is the way it works out there, get used to it. Yeah, it sucks, but people will do it all the time in the real world so you will have to try harder, be better, work around that, figure it out. Just have fun with your teammates, etc.” And he did, he got better and better and proved he was a force to be reckoned with, and learned there are jerks in the world. Hard lesson, but a life lesson none the less. He still never got the playing time he deserved, but he played better and harder and didn’t give up. He also learned that people don’t do the right thing, and people in charge have power and can do the wrong thing, but you must persevere. . . and he did! He did not quit and didn’t complain or pout . . . we ALL learned a lesson of perseverance and patience! Hard! And we had to remain friends . . .
We were the most proud parents, watching them play sports as we attended the games. What a social life sports can bring to the whole family. In small spurts yes, but you have to watch how much to get involved there too, otherwise you can become a helicopter parent and you can be in your kids lives too much, involved with all their friends’ parents at every pizza party these kids have and so they have no separate life from the beer swilling parents hanging on. I’ve seen it, it’s not pretty, all the town politics and soap operas can get creepy. No thank you! We let the kids go on their own to play. . .
So there is a lot going on in all manners. Somehow you muddle through. Sometimes even having to move them to another state in their HS years and Middle School years, but they can even survive that if you talk about it in advance and explain that it’s the best thing for the family. Their Dad getting a promotion and needing to move is a strong motivator for smart kids who are savvy because you have spoken to them as if they were mature enough to understand the truth always.
It may not be easy to adjust, but if they are strong because you have invested your time and love they will survive the tough times of the loneliness of the move just like you will. They will be stronger, having to have made the move for the betterment of their family unit, for the future of everybody and will grow to realize it in their maturity which my two sons did.
When I was diagnosed with breast cancer, my youngest son was home alone with me and I didn’t even think of hiding the truth or the diagnosis from him. As soon as I heard the “C” word I ran to him and told him and he held me and I cried. I needed him and he needed to help me, we needed each other, he had been my “boy” now he was a man. But the next day I was up in the morning as if nothing had happened, and I was ready to attack “it”. I found an essay he wrote and he said I taught him how to be loving and tough, he learned responsibility.
My other son was nothing but optimistic through the whole thing. Whenever I would tell him I might get some bad news, he would deny it, and always tell me I would only get the “best” news possible. When I would prepare him, just in case, for bad, he would ask what was the best case scenario, and I would tell him, not to get his hopes up, I didn’t want him to be unerringly optimistic all the time, but I think it helped, because I was optimistic, too. And everything DID turn out the best!
We’ve been through death and illness and I’ve never hidden any of these hard truths from my sons. Would I do anything differently, who wouldn’t? But not if my sons would turn out any differently than they are. They are both MEN to be reckoned with, who make me very proud!
All these things and SO much more, rolled together make them the MEN they are.
(C) Written by Evelyn Garone 4/2011